If a young man possess exceptional beauty; a stunning mane of chocolate brown hair framing luminous dark eyes, set in a perfectly balanced face, with flawless skin and a Hollywood smile; a long, sleek profile, combined with quiet confidence, intelligence; charisma; discipline; the perfect English accent, and talent in spades, along with a savvy manager who believes in him, what would it take to help make him into something substantial?
I believe it was Rilke who said, Live the questions.
In late summer I finally got around to doing a quick photo shoot of Billy. In the interest of time and ease I shot a couple hundreds pictures with my iPhone. I always shoot 90% more than required. This was followed by serious culling. The challenge wasn't finding a handful of stellar shots of the beautiful boy, nearly all of them were stunning, but deciding which shot best captured his individual look.
We settled on the above photo of Billy on his bike. That's a guitar case slug across his back. Kookie made the chrome signature. More about her in a moment. We both knew we had something special. We felt it as sure as you feel thunder, a half second before it roars through the sky. We knew.
Billy Birjukov (BB) is my talented teenage protégé. He is the most substantial seventeen year old you'll likely ever meet. Discover more about him here. There's a whole website devoted to the kid. He is blessed.
Kookie's the kid sister I always wanted. She's impossible to accurately describe. A natural born chameleon. A shy rebel. A Renaissance woman and I don't use that term lightly. She'll be outside mixing cement for her Yorkshire stone patio in the morning; cooking up a killer beef stroganoff for lunch, while creating a couple of logos for a new client in the same afternoon. She's also Billy's mother. She would have put that first. "I'm a mum," she says. "That's what I am. Nothing else matters."
And then there's me, reformed ad woman; quasi-intellectual; immigrant outsider; advocate for underdogs; sybarite; dreamer; rabble-rouser; cook; an obscure artist and writer who regularly auctions off her brain tissue to highest bidder.
This is our story. It's the tale of a boy with a chance for something better and the women who take all that raw material and turn it into something magical.